Final Fantasy X is an action-adventure role playing game developed by Square Enix in 2001. The plot of the game follows Tidus, a superstar athlete of the fictional underwater sport Blitzball in his hometown of Zanarkand, a luxurious city full of high-rises, bright lights and advanced technologies. During a Blitzball game, the city is attacked by a massive creature that the townspeople regard as “Sin.”
After the entire city is destroyed, Tidus is somehow transported to the land of Spira, 1000 years in the future. Through the immense journey, Tidus befriends Yuna, an up-and-coming Summoner devoted to bringing peace to the land, along with her five guardians. As Tidus decides to join her and the rest of her companions on her pilgrimage, he discovers that Sin is the spiritual embodiment of consequence for society’s violent reliance on machines and mankind’s materialistic values overpowering faith. Yuna implies that the only way to defeat Sin is by summoning the seven Aeons, mystical and powerful creatures that she can only obtain by journeying to prestigious temples and passing their tests as a Summoner. As the gang continues their voyage and faces countless challenges throughout the game, we learn more about Tidus, how he truly arrived in Spira and what his role in this world is in what turns out to be a very twisted and compelling story.
The Final Fantasy franchise, now fifteen games deep, has always been known for its vast word-building, graphics, combat mechanics and complex story. For its time, Final Fantasy X was critically acclaimed for how intricately crafted and innovative this game was. The game employs a turn-based combat system where up to three allies and enemies can be on the battlefield at once while each person attacks one-by-one. It is well-known for allowing the player the opportunity to switch out each character mid-battle, something that a lot of RPG’s had not yet brought into play. It is the first game to allow the player to utilize up to seven different playable characters and personally design the skill-tree for each. You would do this using the Sphere Grid, a humungous chart that branches out into hundreds of different directions. By collecting different unique “spheres” while playing the game, you can upgrade each character’s specific abilities in any direction. This leads to different gear customizations for weapons and armor that provides us with the true RPG-style format that Final Fantasy games specialize in.
As a Playstation 2 game from 2001, Final Fantasy X had some of the greatest graphics I had ever seen from a game running on that console. It was the smooth, detailed look of each cutscene that began to enthrall me with video games as a young child.
Although it was such a simple characteristic of the game’s animation, even seeing your characters hair bounce as they moved was something so interesting that I had never witnessed before in a game. Additionally, the land of Spira was crafted like no other Final Fantasy game had been before, attempting to better reflect Asian culture and landscape into the environment rather than the European medieval aesthetic they artistically expressed in past games. The developers had even commented that Thailand was specifically an inspiration for some of the locations in the game. For example, in the game, the island of Besaid resembles a very tropical, southern-pacific atmosphere while Kilika is a very stereotypical image of a village in Thailand, built around a forest and on a body of water.
This is just a sample of the culture that is beautifully reflected within Final Fantasy X and is only one of the many artistic qualities that draws people to this game.
The game does not use many real-life social issues as plot mechanisms, but does have its fair share. In the game, the Al Bhed are a group of people that belong to Bikanel Island, home to Spira’s only desert region. The Al Bhed are very foreign to the general population because of the unique language that they speak and how far their homeland is from the other indigenous populations of Spira. They are hated by mostly everyone because they are masterful technologists known for inventing the machines and weapons responsible for Sin and do not believe in the teachings of Yevon, the primary religion of Spira. They are very much inspired by the Middle East and a lot of the characters act as if the Al Bhed are the most threatening race to the world’s safety. In the beginning of the game, when Tidus is first lost after Zanarkand was destroyed, he is rescued by an Al Bhed group led by a girl named Rikku, who later becomes one of the other playable characters. As soon as Rikku joins Yuna’s pilgrimage as a guardian, she holds back from telling everyone that she is Al Bhed because of the reaction she knows she will receive from the rest of the party. When Wakka, one of Yuna’s guardians, figures out Rikku’s heritage, he threatens to kick her out until Tidus stands up for her for saving his life and Yuna reveals that she is actually part Al Bhed. This is a very big issue that is not only squashed with Rikku’s closure.
The final thing that makes Final Fantasy X amazing is the musical compositions. Nobuo Uematsu and Junya Nakano are very famous composers, mostly known for the Final Fantasy games and other Japanese anime. What is so fantastic about the Final Fantasy X score is the composer’s ability to create simple, catchy themes for each character and location that are later reused in more complex pieces of music. That is what creates the insane level of nostalgia for any person who replays the game. For me, this occurs with Tidus’s main theme.
On top of that, being a game revolving around religion, there are very unique songs that fill that spiritual aesthetic. One of the most emotionally touching pieces of music from the game is “Warping to a Different Dimension,” a song that plays when Yuna performs a “sending” of the dead to the Farplane, a place where the dead are at peace, after Sin destroys an entire village.
It is all of these qualities that make Final Fantasy X a remarkable game and a truly memorable experience.